Our Guide To Safer Oil Painting for You and the Environment

Our Guide To Safer Oil Painting for You and the Environment

Posted by Cass Art on 10th Feb 2022

In today’s day and age, we are much more aware of harmful substances we are exposed to. And especially artists who still work with toxic materials and are rarely exposed to the inspections and procedures that keep other businesses mindful of the hazards involved. Here is a few of our top tips protect yourself, the people around you and of course the environment.


Ventilation is key!

The first thing and possibly the most important is to ensure your area of creativity whether it be a studio or bedroom is to have good ventilation. Especially if you cannot avoid using solvents, it’s always a good idea to paint in a well-ventilated space when being exposed to any potential harmful odours. These areas of ventilation allow for air and any fumes to circulate and escape. The use of low odour solvents can help with reducing the potential for headaches but remember this does not reduce their toxicity levels, and they are certainly not healthy to breathe in!

Be Careful with Solvents

Oil painting without solvents may sounds challenging but is not hard to do if necessary, but it does require some adjustments. Many artists think that being blaze about solvents having open containers of turpentine pottered around the studio part in parcel of being an artist, but this really should not be the case. Of all oil painting materials solvents are the most hazardous to your health as they have fumes that will fill the air in your room. Oil paint pigments do not have fumes, so you cannot breathe it in. But solvents do have toxic fumes and therefore it is recommended to always keep the jar closed and of course at a safe distance from your painting position.


Cass Art Brush Cleaner and Low Odour Solvents

If you want to stay away from toxic solvents a highly efficient and safer solvent for oil paint Cass Art Brush Cleaner which is a non toxic, environmentally friendly alternative to regular solvent. It can be used instead of turpentine to clean your brushes and thin your oil paint and has a It has a strong pleasant citrus fragrance. It's ideal for use in shared studios, schools and colleges, and by those allergic to conventional thinners. If the citrus smell is not for you Winsor & Newton Sansodor is a great alternative, similar characteristics to Turpentine but without the potent smell.


1. Health Hazard - This symbol relates to longer term health hazards, such as respiratory sensitisers, When using such products, avoid inhalation it is best practice to wear face protection, such as a mask.

2. Exclamation mark -This symbol is used for less serious health hazards, like skin irritation. It indicates that a material can cause irritation to the skin or eyes, or sensitisation. It also includes acute toxic effect that might arise through ingestion, dermal contact or inhalation. 

3. Flamable - Avoid any medium with this symbol contact with any open flame. They should always be used in a well-ventilated space to lower the risk of ignition. 

4. Environmental Hazard - This COSHH symbol represents the risk of substances that may cause serious damage, either immediate or long term to multiple components of an environment. 

Cleaning Your Brushes

Most artists use solvents to clean their brushes. So what do you use if you want to avoid solvents? Believe it or not water and soap works well. Dishwashing liquid and water, also works well. Or else use painting oil (linseed, walnut) to clean out the paint, after which you wash the brush with water and soap to remove the oil. There are also safe brush cleaning soaps on the market, such as Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver afterwards. This is a brilliant product that has the ability to remove oil, acrylics, watercolours, stains and varnishes.

Watermixable oil paint

Another way to go is to choose Water mixable oil paint. This is a medium that is possible to enjoy the aesthetics of traditional oil paint without requiring solvents to thin paint or clean brushes. Now water can be mixed to reduce the consistency of your paint, and with a little soap brushes can be washed under a running tap. Water-mixable oil colour brands can be mixed with one another. Winsor & Newton offer a vast range called Artisan Watermixable Oils which also have a range of watermixable mediums too. There are also fast drying mediums available too. You're able to use the same brushes and canvas as you would for regular oil painting, the only difference in the process is using water instead of solvent. No more heady fumes to give you a headache, no harsh solvents that dry your skin out, and no more respiratory issues either! 

Hope these were helpful! Stay safe and happy painting!


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